An Interview With Jukebox The Ghost

As Tally Hall fans, we’re obviously pretty smart people.  But we don’t always know too much about the other bands Tally Hall is playing with, despite the fact that many of us became fans by way of seeing Tally Hall opening up for others.

So I’ve agreed to do a little interview with with Jukebox The Ghost (JtG) in order to better acquaint ourselves with them.  A Philadelphia-based band, born out of Washington, DC;  They’ve played with Tally Hall in the past, at a show here in Philly, actually.  But I agreed to this on one condition… I could let the Tally Hall fans, The HITS Community, ask the questions.  Luckily, some of these fans were already acquainted with Jukebox The Ghost.

Tommy Siegel (guitar/vocals) fielded the questions posed by the fans of Tally Hall.



This tour marks the 2nd time you’ve met Tally Hall. What do you think about them as a band and as individuals?

Ben was actually a big fan of Tally Hall before we were even called Jukebox the Ghost — He somehow caught wind of them in 2006 while he was studying abroad in college and brought us all out to one of their shows in DC later that year. As a band, they’re excellent — And as men, they’re manly. Very, very nice guys and very funny.

Tell us where the name Jukebox the Ghost comes from and were there any other names you were considering calling yourselves?

We were called ‘The Sunday Mail’ in college for a couple of years, but we all hated the band name and were dying to find a new one. We all spent awhile poring through books, lyrics, and anything else we could think of for band name ideas. Jukebox the Ghost is really a team effort — I got Jukebox from a Captain Beefheart lyric, Ghost came from a Nabokov passage that Ben liked, and we put them together with ‘the’. The ghost logo came to me as soon as we thought of the name.

You hail from Washington DC but moved to Philadelphia. As someone who grew up and lives in the Philly area, why in the world would you choose here?

It’s cheaper than DC! Well, that IS the original reason we moved there — But now we actually love the city on its own merits. Its status as a perpetually underrated and ignored major city on the east coast means it’s incredibly cheap to live in, there’s a great art/music scene, and lots of like-minded 20-somethings with beards wandering around with crappy jobs and bicycles. Plus, it’s a short drive from NYC, DC, and Baltimore, which is great for touring.

You’re preparing to release your follow-up to 2008’s Let Live & Let Ghosts. What sound is JtG going for on the new album? Does it have a name yet? Definitive release date?

It’s a bit more mature than the last one, but we definitely still sound like the same band. The first album was recorded in a rush in college since we didn’t have any budget, so we didn’t get to do a lot of things that we wanted to do. This new album took a full month to record, so we had a lot of time to make sure we were proud of the arrangements and production. No title yet, no release date — But we should know more about that in a few weeks.

Is songwriting more a collaborative effort with Jukebox The Ghost or is it more individually powered?

Ben and I both write songs separately and then bring them to band practice for arranging. Generally, if you see one of us singing lead on a song, that means that person wrote that song.

Getting back to LL&LG… the finale was a 3-part rock opera and there were at least 2 other instances where songs flowed into each other. Was this a preconceived notion going into the studio or did the idea evolve during the recording process?

It was a pre-concieved notion — I spent my junior and senior year of college working on an ‘end of the world’ rock opera — Beady Eyes, Miss Templeton’s, Static, and the last three songs on the album are all part of that sequence. Eventually, we ended up splitting up songs and making it a little more digestible for a pop format — But if I ever have extra cash to throw around, I’d love to record the whole song sequence by itself as its own album just to see what it would sound like with the addition of the material that didn’t make it onto Let Live and Let Ghosts.

How’d you score the Ben Folds opening slot? Tell us about that experience.

Lots of well-executed manager-to-manager pestering by our manager, Seth. And a little bit of luck.

What’s your favorite…
Tally Hall song? Spring and a Storm.
Breakfast Cereal? Cheerios. But I’m dull in the morning.
Venue? The Paradiso in Amsterdam. Just played there on our last tour — it’s a beautiful church with multiple side-rooms. Plus, being in Amsterdam helps.
Day Of The Year? Thanksgiving.

What do you think the most important factors are for a new, original band to be able to rise up above the throngs of cover bands and other original acts out there all competing and playing the same venues around their respective town?

I really think that if you have a strong local fanbase, the rest will follow. If you don’t have a solid local base, I’m not sure how you can feel confident enough in the music to attempt a national breakthrough or something. For us, it was a long time of perfecting our sound and working up a DC fanbase before we even tried any serious touring. And I think that’s for the better — We became a much better band from trying to make fans in our own city. “The Sunday Mail” would have sucked on a real tour, most likely.

Just before this tour with Tally Hall & Skybox, you were exhaustively touring Europe, which seemed like quite an adventure. Would you say it was worth it at this point in JtG’s career?

Absolutely worth it. It’s incredible to me that we have the germ of a fanbase in Germany — And that the next time we go there, we could actually have a small crowd. Not to mention, touring 14 countries in Europe in a Fiat was an experience that will be hard to match.

What do you think of Tally Hall’s fans?

They seem kind of similar to our usual fans (read: a little nerdy like us), so we love ’em. Two thumbs up.



Thumbs up, indeed!  Thanks everyone for your suggested questions.
Jukebox The Ghost is currently on tour with Tally Hall and Skybox. They’ll be making their way around SXSW shortly, too. Check their SXSW dates and listen to some songs over on their Myspace:


Webmaster of HITS. Also known as "Webmaster Jerk".

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